Cautious Countdown

Firstly, thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes last week. They were all read and appreciated. The day was spent at work, so it will not rank in my all-time top 10 birthdays, but I got to spend the evening with these dudes and eat some pizza, so all was not lost.

Present wise, recognising I am a bugger to buy for, I did very well. A new iWatch (my other broke a few weeks ago), a huge pack of Pick n Mix, some cash, clothes, a very posh neck pillow for the plane and some dollars for spending on our (hopefully) upcoming trip.

On that note, having endured most of 2020 and 2021 reading these posts each week where I would prattle on about a trip to Florida that wasn’t certain and usually did not happen, I can only imagine your delight that we are back there again now. At least it can only last for a few weeks this time and relies on the health of some parents and not some global pandemic inflicting grief, misery and destitution on the world.

My Dad is home from the hospital as of Friday, and Mary carries on carrying on. As we stand, the trip is on but excitement levels are low, to avoid what could be likely disappointment.

Having talked about how I was going to go with the flow and not plan anything, last week, with all of you already knowing that I was lying, I caved and booked an ADR. I would have booked two had there been any availability on any evening of our entire trip for O’hana, (what’s going on with that?) but there was not and so we just have the one, so far, at Sanaa. That bread service is like a tractor beam.

For those times when we may wish to eat on site, I have been doing some “same day booking” tests with the app. For several days I have fired it up and looked for places to eat that evening and there has been plenty to choose from. So I am trying to hold firm and not tie us to specific times if I can help it, so we can just make plans once we know when we want to eat. Then I can give Louise three hours to get ready, having lied about the actual time of a booking by at least half an hour so that we may only set off half an hour late.

You know we have many off-site places we have to go to, so our on-site culinary adventures may be limited. Having had a quick look at some options around the Swan & Dolphin and noticed that Shula’s steakhouse has a $155 steak on the menu, then it could be McDonalds for many meals!

Our off-site list, as if you haven’t seen it a million times before, will probably include…..

  • Bahama Breeze
  • Olive Garden
  • Romano’s Macaroni Grill
  • Teak
  • Applebees
  • Cowfish
  • Cheesecake Factory

The last of those probably being the standout of our January trip. We have declared them the server of the world’s best Nachos and I will not be taking questions or entering into a debate about that. As Louise is the world’s biggest lover of Nachos, it stands to reason that we return to let her sample what she missed earlier this year.

I had a number of very understandable comments on last week’s post doubting my ability to resist going to the WDW parks, particularly Epcot, as we will be staying so close for half of the trip. My resolve is strong, but of course, all I have seen in my Disney social feeds since booking this trip is how empty the WDW parks are right now and folks are being paid to go on the rides….well, not quite.

There are no plans to change our plans, as we need a relaxing break and the extra cost and complexity of us attempting the Disney stuff is just not compatible with that. I’m not saying my brain is 100% comfortable with that stance, but it’s what we’re doing!

It does feel like everything park related is going to take a good few years to settle down. Perhaps by then, we’ll have been able to ride Remy and Rise?

I was delighted to realise that many of the hoops we had to jump through in January to get on a plane are no longer a thing. Using the VeriFly app this time was much easier, simply uploading our vaccination QR codes and attesting that we had a passport and that was it.

So we’re two weeks away, don’t know if we’re going and doing much of the prep to do so at the same time. It’s the Schrodinger’s Cat of a holiday.

And of course, the work in the garden isn’t finished.

Till the next time…..

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Ten 7th September 2018

I blame the huge amounts of food last night, and every other night this trip, for sleeping in until 9am. This is a rare occurrence and if you aren’t middle-aged with a body conditioned to wake at the time your daily grind demands, then make the most of the lie ins you can currently enjoy. The fact that you can go more than eight hours without a wee will be a miracle you won’t appreciate until later in life.

Whilst it was a valiant effort by all concerned, leaving the house at 10.01 was still later than I of course would have liked. Today was water park day and Typhoon Lagoon had opened one minute ago.  Writing interesting prose about lying in the sun is always a challenge, so let’s see how we go with tales of swimming for a bit, eating, lying down a bit and then swimming again! By the time I had expertly reversed off the drive, in my mind, every slither of shade had already been taken and we would be forced to lie in the blistering heat watching our skin bubble and pucker, so I was keen to get there asap.

These mental scenarios tortured me as I hammered it down the 192. I did a glorious job of getting us there in just twenty minutes and to be fair it looked quiet in the car park, but of course that didn’t mean that 3,500 people hadn’t arrived by bus and coach.

As we wandered in the subject of hiring a cabana was mentioned. With Freddie with us the prospect of not enough shade was not an option and so we enquired if any were still available at this advanced hour. We were dealt with by a cast member earning their ears, bless her, who knew less than I did, and her more experienced colleague stepped in and gave us a choice of pretty much any cabana on property. It seemed the park really was that quiet. There was one available right next to the lazy river but we declined that one as it was the only cabana that wasn’t “lightning proof” and chose the one next to it.

We were joined by our personal server for the day and stood making awkward conversation with her whilst Tom went to change Freddie. Turns out I’m as good at small talk as I am at getting us out of the villa on time.

It was a load of cash. I mean, silly amounts, but you know, you can’t take it with you and all that and it was lovely. Having learned how much they make from these things I know understand why they don’t provide brollies for free.

This was our view. That is actually cabana number 1, the one which is not lightning proof due to it being a big umbrella.

There was a little fridge with bottled water and endless towels and crucially copious amounts of shade.

The price also included refillable mugs for the day so we had a LOT of coke to drink today. Once we had settled in we did our first filling of the mugs and had our first of many battles of the day with wasps.

Everyone, minus Louise who was already prostrate in the direct sunshine, went into the lazy river. We all did one loop and retired back to the cabana. Time to refill the mugs again. They were a bit temperamental to be honest. “Place cup on try” was a message I had already had enough of hearing especially as I had put the bloody cup on the tray.

I watched Freddie for a bit whilst all the youngsters went off swimming and sliding and took the responsibility of ordering us some lunch. This was done by texting our young helper for the day, who I think was called Rebecca. I spent seconds looking at the menu before spectacularly over ordering lots of pizza, a hot dog for Tom and a chicken sandwich for Rebecca.

It arrived just as everyone returned from the water and we dug in. It was all very tasty indeed. One interesting point was that our server wouldn’t/couldn’t accept a tip from us which I thought was strange.

Our food interested more wasps and some other wildlife….

SQUIRREL!

For some reason I thought now was a good time to take a photo of my refillable mug.

We all dried off and rested for a bit now.

Once we had waited the obligatory amount of time after eating that your Mum always told you to so that we wouldn’t die, we headed back into the wave pool to be aggressively tossed around for a bit. That was an interesting and unexpected perk of the cabana I have to say.

As is always the case at Typhoon Lagoon at this time of year a storm approached and the water was cleared.

There were a couple of light showers which saw pretty much everyone else leave the park, but as we were covered by our cabana we were able to sit it out, have a drink, fight some wasps and just chill out a bit.

Everything was opened up again at 4pm and we enjoyed whatever bit of water we liked all to ourselves. Maybe this cabana had been worth it after all?

We spent the last hour in the shallow bit of water just outside the main wave pool with Freddie. It was absolutely lovely. To be sat with the girls, all playing with Freddie in the warm water was just a lovely moment.

The park closed at 5pm, which I have to say I think is a little early saying it opens at 10am. We could easily have stayed another hour or two. We reluctantly made that damp, sandy walk back to the car and did the usual sitting on towels in the car whilst we drove home.

We did a fairly impressive set of showers and changes to quickly head out for dinner tonight at the Cheesecake Factory. The closest one was at the Mall at Millennia and my hunger drove us there in no time at all.

I checked us in and was upset to hear that it would be a thirty minute wait. We chose to wait outside as it was very busy and noisy indoors.

After what felt like several days we were shown to our table and we were hungry!

We had some appetisers despite the fact that we would be eating dessert here no matter how full we might feel. He who dares wins…..

Mikey had Calamari but I suspect there’s a cream for that in Walgreens.

I shared Guac & Chips with Rebecca. I’m not trying to be hip and groovy, that’s what the menu said…..

Emily and Louise had spinach and artichoke dip

Tom had pot stickers after loving them at Yak & Yati the other day.

I followed that with a fried chicken sandwich as I didn’t want to go crazy with the calories!

Tom a Bacon Bacon Burger. Yes, so bacony they named it twice….

Rebecca, spicy sausage pasta

Emily a Chicken Caesar salad

Louise had a Filet Mignon with Mash.

Mikey had Lasagne

I can confirm that this was all as delicious as it looked. Fantastic food.

What follows now are several photos of cheesecake. I didn’t note who had what. I was just too excited to cram mine down my neck so just drink them in and appreciate them.

Emily took hers to go as she was one spoonful away from a hospital visit. Holy hell those desserts were just wonderful. I was too full to eat it, but eat it I did and I’m not even sorry.

It was literally painful to walk back to the car and how I managed to control the thing without killing us all I don’t know. We abandoned the van pretty much on the drive, or close enough not to matter and we all crawled our way into our beds.

Tomorrow’s plan had called for an early start but by consensus we had all decided that was just not going to happen and a lie in was proposed, seconded and agreed by all.

Till the next time…..

Cheese? Cake?

It’s been an upsetting week. I was back at work and to make matters worse I had to spend a couple of days away from home down in Marlow. It’s a lovely place don’t get me wrong, but a 4am start and lots of driving on top of actually having to work as well, just don’t make for a restful week.

This is a mere bagatelle however when compared to the horrors of the first cold mornings and darker evenings when I haven’t had a summer holiday. The weather is yet to turn properly of course but there has been enough of a chill in the air, certainly this morning, to suggest what is on the way.

I think it is safe to say that both Louise and I are feeling the pain now and all the signs are that it is going to be a long winter…..sort of Game of Thrones style. Winter is indeed coming and not only have I not eaten hundreds of thousands of calories in the sunshine state, but the bright white trainer industry in the UK is suffering significantly as I have not invested in their wares as I normally would have. It’s a lose, lose scenario.

Still, our new floor, kitchen, windows and decorating look nice, so I feel much better.  -_-

The hardest blow this week however was delivered by text. Following on from my lengthy and detailed blog a couple of weeks ago detailing exactly how you should plan a holiday and at the same time demonstrating how you shouldn’t, if you have any sort of actual life, you will be familiar with my struggle to fit in all the activities meals we want to into the short time we are there. I have already added a couple of extra places which is going to mean eating when we’re not hungry, but on Friday Emily sent me this image.

cheesecake

That my friends is the counter at The Cheesecake Factory. Why was I so upset about receiving this picture? Well, I couldn’t fit it into our plan and I wanted to…a lot. Emily and I discussed at more length than any rational human beings should how we might force it into our plan and bellies but we couldn’t come up with anything that I thought could work without us spending the holiday like this…

again!

I did not admit defeat. Oh no, you don’t get a body like mine by throwing in the towel just because you’re already planning to eat more meals than a small town in just over two weeks.

If the image of all those cheesecakes isn’t enough of an explanation as to why it must be done, then you check out their full menu here.  There are two, yes two full pages of their menu dedicated to cheesecake…and I make no apologies for sharing all of them here….

ORIGINAL
The One that Started it All!
Our Famous Creamy Cheesecake with a Graham Cracker Crust and Sour Cream Topping
FRESH STRAWBERRY
The Original Topped with Glazed Fresh Strawberries. Our Most Popular Flavor for over 35 Years!
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT CRUNCH CHEESECAKE
Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake Topped with Hazelnut Crunch and Nutella®
SALTED CARAMEL CHEESECAKE
Caramel Cheesecake and Creamy Caramel Mousse on a Blonde Brownie all Topped with Salted Caramel
TOASTED MARSHMALLOW S’MORES GALORE™
Hershey’s® Cheesecake Topped with Housemade Marshmallow and Honey Maid® Graham Crackers
®
DREAM EXTREME CHEESECAKE
Creamy Cheesecake Layered with Oreo® Cookies, Topped with Oreo® Cookie Mousse and Chocolate Icing
LEMON MERINGUE CHEESECAKE
Lemon Cream Cheesecake Topped with Layers of Lemon Mousse and Meringue
ADAM’S PEANUT BUTTER CUP FUDGE RIPPLE
Creamy Cheesecake Swirled with Caramel, Peanut Butter, Butterfinger
®
and Reese’s
®
Peanut Butter Cups
GODIVA®
CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE
Flourless Godiva® Chocolate Cake, Topped with Godiva® Chocolate Cheesecake and Chocolate Mousse
ULTIMATE RED VELVET CAKE CHEESECAKE™
Layers of Red Velvet Cake and Cheesecake Covered in Cream Cheese Frosting. Finished with White Chocolate
REESE’S® PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CAKE CHEESECAKE
Reese’s
® Peanut Butter Cups in Our Original Cheesecake with Layers of Delicious Fudge Cake and Caramel
30th ANNIVERSARY CHOCOLATE CAKE CHEESECAKE
Layers of Our Original Cheesecake, Fudge Cake and Chocolate Truffle Cream
DULCE DE LECHE CARAMEL CHEESECAKE
Caramel Cheesecake Topped with Caramel Mousse and Almond Brickle on a Vanilla Crust
WHITE CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TRUFFLE®
Creamy Cheesecake Swirled with White Chocolate and Raspberry
CHRIS’ OUTRAGEOUS CHEESECAKE™
Chocolate Chip Coconut Cheesecake with Layers of Chocolate Cake, Brownie and Coconut Pecan Frosting
MANGO KEY LIME CHEESECAKE
Topped with Mango Mousse on a Vanilla Coconut Macaroon Crust
FRESH BANANA CREAM CHEESECAKE
Banana Cream Cheesecake Topped with Bavarian Cream and Fresh Sliced Banana
WHITE CHOCOLATE CARAMEL MACADAMIA NUT CHEESECAKE
White Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake Swirled with Macadamia Nuts and Caramel on a Blonde Brownie Crust
LEMON RASPBERRY CREAM CHEESECAKE
Raspberry-Vanilla Cake, Creamy Lemon Cheesecake, Raspberry Lady Fingers and Lemon Mousse
TIRAMISU CHEESECAKE
Our Wonderful Cheesecake and Tiramisu Combined into one Amazing Dessert!
CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CHEESECAKE
Silky Chocolate Cheesecake Topped with a Layer of Belgian Chocolate Mousse
VANILLA BEAN CHEESECAKE
Creamy Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, Topped with Vanilla Mousse and Whipped Cream
CHOCOLATE TUXEDO CREAM® CHEESECAKE
Layers of Our Fudge Cake, Chocolate Cheesecake, Vanilla Mascarpone Mousse and Chocolate
KAHLUA® COCOA COFFEE CHEESECAKE
A Rich Brownie, Topped with Kahlua® Cheesecake, Creamy Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Ganache

HERSHEY’S®
CHOCOLATE BAR CHEESECAKE
Hershey’s® Cheesecake Between Moist Chocolate Cake with Creamy Chocolate Frosting and Chocolate Chips
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE-DOUGH CHEESECAKE
Creamy Cheesecake Loaded with Our Chocolate Chip Cookie-Dough and Walnuts
DUTCH APPLE CARAMEL STREUSEL
Our Original Cheesecake, Baked Apples, Caramel and Brown Sugar Cinnamon Walnut Streusel
KEY LIME CHEESECAKE
Key Lime Pie in a Cheesecake! Deliciously Tart and Creamy on a Vanilla Crumb Crust
LOW CARB CHEESECAKE
Smooth and Creamy with a Graham-Walnut Crust
LOW CARB CHEESECAKE WITH STRAWBERRIES
Graham-Walnut Crust with Fresh Strawberries and Whipped Cream
CARAMEL PECAN TURTLE CHEESECAKE
Pecan Brownie and Caramel-Fudge Swirl Cheesecake, Topped with Caramel Turtle Pecans and Chocolate
SNICKERS®
BAR CHUNKS AND CHEESECAKE
Creamy Cheesecake Topped with Snickers® Bar, Fudge and Caramel
CRAIG’S CRAZY CARROT CAKE CHEESECAKE
Carrot Cake and Cheesecake Swirled Together, Topped with Cream Cheese Icing and Roasted Almonds
CHERRY CHEESECAKE
A Classic! The Original Topped with Cherry Preserves
PUMPKIN & PUMPKIN PECAN
World Famous! Available From September
Cheesecake from 6.95 to 7.95
A La Mode 1.95 Extra with Hot Fudge 1.95 Extra

It will take me until next April to choose which one (or two) I will have.

You may realise whilst looking at the link to their full menu how I have solved this tricky problem. You didn’t doubt for one second that I would find a way did you? Yes, there is a Cheesecake Factory close to Siesta Key. Our time in Orlando may be short but this will not keep me from life threatening amounts of calories. We are saved, and it now sits proudly in the plan like the ticking time bomb those calories will become within my fast hardening arteries.

I’m calling that a successful week after all!

Till the next time…